Nature counts the black widow spider amongst its most fascinating and dangerous anomalies. The female arachnid often devours its mate after copulation. It’s both a delicate and dangerous predator. In This Moment isn’t all that different from this enigmatic beast. Led by frontwoman Maria Brink, the Los Angeles hard rock outfit strikes with a seductive metallic bite on their aptly titled fifth full-length album, Black Widow.
The record, the first for the band on Atlantic Records, picks up where the group’s 2012 breakthrough, Blood, left off. That album saw In This Moment debut at #15 on the Billboard Top 200, their highest chart position to date, and eventually sold over 250,000 units in the U.S. alone. It also spawned the single “Blood,” which rose to #9 on the Mainstream Rock and Active Rock Songs charts. A sold out headline tour, HELLPOP, followed, as well as appearances at the Uproar Festival and Rock On The Range, and jaunts with Shinedown and Papa Roach. After the whirlwind of Blood subsided, Maria and Chris retreated to Las Vegas in February 2014 to begin working on what would become Black Widow with longtime producer Kevin Churko [Ozzy Osbourne, Five Finger Death Punch].
While writing and recording in the studio, Maria and Chris both tapped into the fearless ethos that characterized Blood, inciting their next creative evolution in the process.
Their boundless approach shines through in album opener “Sex Metal Barbie.” Tempering an industrial crunch and sexually charged synths with gnashing riffs and hauntingly hypnotic vocal delivery, the track instantly transfixes, calling out haters who hide behind keyboards.
One of the album’s most powerful moments comes on the piano-driven rumination “The Fighter.” Contrasted with the resounding stark keys, Maria’s voice proves especially potent. She goes on, “It’s embracing and accepting who I am. I used to think something was wrong with me. I’ve come to learn I’m perfect in how fucked up I am. I wouldn’t have these songs to sing or be able to connect with people without that.”
Ultimately, that connection with fans is what drives the band. “Their loyalty is incredible,” declares Maria. “It comes down to us doing this for ourselves and our fans. We owe it all to them, and we’re excited for everybody to experience this. This is who we are, and it’s for them.”
Meticulousness ensures singularity. Bad Omens carefully direct each nuance of their music, approaching the process with an auteur mindset. The California quartet—Noah Sebastian [lead vocals], Joakim “Jolly” Karlsson [lead guitar, vocals], Nicholas Ruffilo [bass], and Nick Folio [drums]—explore the enigmatic idiosyncrasies of their signature sound on 2019’s Finding God Before God Finds Me [Sumerian Records], imbuing cinematic electronics and gospel stature into metallic melodies.
Produced by Noah and Jolly, the ten-track trip unfurls like the sonic equivalent of a gripping existential drama.
“What makes us a rock band is the fact we play instruments, but we’ve always been pretty experimental in terms of post-production,” explains Noah. “We dove after a specific sound without boundaries. What separates us is the attention to detail in every song.”
Bad Omens diligently worked to hone this approach since their 2016 self-titled debut. As the entire tracklisting tallied nearly 30 million streams, the breakthrough single “The Worst In Me” leapt past the 8 million mark on Spotify. Meanwhile, “Glass Houses” clocked 4.7 million Spotify streams, “Exit Wounds” racked up 2.6 million Spotify streams, and “Reprise (The Sound of the End),” “The Fountain,” “F E R A L,” and “Enough, Enough Now” each exceeded 1 million-plus on the platform. Along the way, they received looks from Alternative Press, New Noise, and Revolver and toured alongside everyone from Parkway Drive to Bullet For My Valentine and Asking Alexandria. Following Warped Tour 2017, the group commenced writing for what would become Finding God Before God Finds Me.
In addition to expanding the sonic structure under the influence of the Hillsong UNITED and other gospel production, Noah endeavored to brighten up the thematic palette as well.
“The last record was so melancholic, sad, dark, and nihilistic at points,” he admits. “Before we started really writing the new record, I went through some things that opened up my mind and made me realize who I wanted to be as a musician, what message I wanted to send, and the feeling I needed to inspire. This is predominantly hopeful. There’s a sense of underdogs overcoming adversity. We should be a safe place for people. There’s also a musical feeling of uplifting catharsis. It’s not entirely happy or sad, but more so regal.”
This drove 2018 singles “Careful What You Wish For” and “The Hell I Overcame.” Fans immediately responded as the former generated 1.5 million Spotify streams and the latter quickly neared 2 million. With Jolly a world away in Sweden, they finished the record remotely, maximizing the time in between tours to cap off a panoramic vision.
The 2019 single “Burning Out” couples strains of piano and choir with trudging distortion and a sweeping and soaring chant of empowerment, “I was lost, but now I’m found under the lights and in the sound.”
“It’s about the impact music has made on me and how it saved me in a sense,” he continues. “It’s about my relationship with myself and music and how I overcame my emotions and took advantage of this ability to reach a better place. I wanted the lyrics to give you a sense of hope.”
Evocative of the experimentation, the album slips from choral elegance into a Spaghetti Western-style swing on opener “Kingdom of Cards.” The conclusion “If I’m There” climaxes on a beautiful reprise, “Well if I’m there to catch you when you fall, you’ll have a friend down in hell after all.”
“In some ways, it’s a love song,” he adds. “It’s also a song of forgiveness and acceptance, which is why it’s the end. I’m drawing a line in the sand and forgiving. This is something I never would’ve done in our stuff before.”
By imparting a piece of themselves on every aspect of the composition and production, Bad Omens deliver a statement that stands out. “We just want you to feel something,” he leaves off. “Nothing in the world is stronger than emotion. It makes us human, gives us soul, and separates us. We tried to make this album like a movie where it captivates you immediately, takes you on a journey, and gives you a positive payoff.”
DED has only been together a little more than three years since the release of their debut album, Mis-An-Thrope, but it is clear that their take-no-prisoners approach has already turned a lot of heads.
Originating from Phoenix, AZ, the foursome embodies elements of rock, alternative, and metal, with pop melodies, hooks and choruses, cloaked in some of the densest, most histrionic, headbanging music on the planet. But when you dig beneath the aggressive surface, DED’s unexpectedly soulful music is about bringing hope, relief and self-awareness, often speaking to and about the young generations that are contending with many deeply embedded issues in today’s society. Rather than the nihilistic, anarchical hellraisers DED might seem to be upon first glance, they’re actually mythical heroes desperately trying to save society, not take it down. Joe Cotela (vocals), David Ludlow (guitar), Kyle Koelsch (bass), and Matt Reinhard (drums) are building a community by offering comfort in times of despair.
DED takes their role seriously in speaking directly to those who feel betrayed by the system, damaged and exploited, left in a world in which they have to pick up the pieces. The band’s roaring and explosive lead single “A Mannequin Idol (Lullaby)” and anthemic track “Eyes Sewn Shut,” released together on a micro-EP entitled Mannequin Eyes, display DED’s dynamic songcraft and thought-provoking consciousness.
“The first album was us just being in a place of feeling angry and disappointed with humanity and putting out something that was aggressive. That’s where we were,” shares Joe. “This time around I felt more of a responsibility to really choose my words and find the correct way to say what I wanted to say. The new music is about clarity through suffering, positivity through negativity, and the frustration that comes with knowing that everyone can be better than they are – that I can be better than I am, because change starts with yourself. We want people to strive and try and be conscious of the things they consume, the way they act, the things they share and celebrate, and the way they live their life – to understand how that all affects their soul and what their legacy is going to be. And that goes for myself as well.”
Helmed by powerhouse rock producer Kevin Churko (Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy Osbourne, Disturbed), “A Mannequin Idol (Lullaby)” and “Eyes Sewn Shut” take the fury of DED’s debut and deepens the emotions. On the incendiary “A Mannequin Idol (Lullaby),” DED takes aim at the conveyor-belt music machine and takes on the fake, surface level, vein aspects of our society that have infiltrated our lives and influence our perception of what’s real.
“We grew up with such amazing alternative music that was so unique and left of center,” says Joe. “It was dangerous and stood for something. I don’t remember personally caring about what anyone looked like or if they were pretty. To me, it was about ‘are they interesting, are they doing something unique, are they good?’ And I’m not saying that there’s nothing like that now. There’s plenty of it and we are big fans of all of it, but I think that the music industry has just become very safe and kids are growing up watching this.”
The stark vocal-and-piano open on “Eyes Sewn Shut” swells into a wall of soaring guitars and driving percussion that create aural shocks to the system like the best horror flicks.
“It’s definitely a big sonic avalanche of a track, and hopefully it makes the listener stop and question everything that they deem to be true. It’s about breaking the monotony of the things that a lot of people accept and challenging some of the old and obsolete ways of thinking and living,” explains David.
With Mis-An-Thrope, DED took the rock world by storm, generating over 25 million streams making several Billboard chart appearances including #1 on the Alternative New Artist chart and #3 on the Top New Artist Albums chart. Singles “Anti-Everything” and “Remember the Enemy” reached Top 20 at Active Rock Radio with SiriusXM’s Octane naming DED “Artist Discovery of the Year” and “Anti-Everything” landing in the station’s Top 10 for 2017. The band were also nominated by Loudwire for Best New Artist. “Anti-Everything” also made impressive strides at servicing appearing on Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 twice and various playlists across Apple Music, Amazon, and Pandora.
Touring-wise, DED were featured as special guests on KoRn and Stone Sour’s “Serenity of Summer” tour and lit up festival stages including Aftershock, Louder Than Life, Rocklahoma, Carolina Rebellion, Rock on the Range and Ship Rocked and will be on tour with In This Moment this Spring.
“I’m proud to be making music that hopefully makes people think, pulls them out of ruts or makes them feel empowered, makes them better themselves, or want to start their own band or use their own voice or express themselves in their own way. It’s a circle, and I know because I got caught in that circle because of the people who were doing it before me,” concludes Joe.
DED, who are quickly becoming one of rock’s most exciting torchbearers, blaze their own trail as they cathartically stare down various beasts – both existential and innate – proving that there’s a way to live through the struggle and come out stronger, happier, and more aware of how we look after ourselves and each other.